The race started with a long bike leg with multiple CP's that led to the paddle section. It was still dark, and the toughest navigation to do at night is biking - so we elected to head straight for the boats and do the bike CP's after the paddle. We were first to the water and the paddle was wonderful. we also were there before a lot of the wind picked up.
Towing on Paddle
Erik and I did tow Wanda and Jim on a good portion of the paddle. Paddle towing is a bit tricky - you do need to use a pretty long tow rope and it does need to be stretchy. The back boat will have a tendency to want to steer the front boat. Attach the rope to the very front of the boat being towed. You can attach the rope to the front boat further up in the boat - the further back you attach the harder it will be to steer. I usually attach it to the rear seat. All paddlers should paddle normally, the rear person in the front boat will have to compensate for steering.
View Nocatee in a larger map
We were first off the paddle, but Get to the Chopper (3PM) made incredible paddle time and was out of the water one minute behind us. The bike leg to the first trek was pretty much uneventful, the points were challenging, but not overly. Having the distance marked on the map between key intersections made it simply a matter of "follow this road for .8 km, go north on the net road/trail for .5 km, etc...) I keep my bike set to km since the map scales are usually done that way.
We arrived 2nd at the trek 1 - Primal Instinct had left 51 minutes before us. I though this was an error, but we new we had to make up some time if we wanted to catch them (an I fully intended at that point to catch them). Because we were behind we planned to take some riskier route choices. The most fun on this leg as a 1 km trek section straight across the open marsh. I have some good shots of this in the video. We did the trek in reverse order as I had determined that this would be a bit faster with more open running at the end of the trek. I tend to like to do the bushwhacks early and the trail running later in the trek sections.
We blasted through the trek in just over one hour (about 5 miles) - and made up nearly 20 minutes on Primal Instinct.
After biking back to the start/finish we had 30 minutes to make up on primal, I had some real high payoff risks that I had planned. We headed first for the bearing course picking up 2 controls en-route (CP 18, CP24). We passed Primal Instinct near the bearing course and also realized that the team had gotten separated.
If you do a lot of adventure racing you will eventually come across the scenario when you get separated from your team-mates. This can happen for lots of reason; you could be split up looking for a CP, a team-mate misses a turn and gets separated, etc... You should never intentionally separate too far apart, but I also realize it happens. The worst situation (which usually occurs racing at night) is when you realize you don't see the lights of a team-mate, or you don't know where your team is. So here is some help. Teams should have a plan. Our plan is simple - always return to the last known intersection or attack point where the team was together. Stop there and wait and call for your team. This is very hard to do (mentally). The team should all know the plan. If you are racing at night discuss the plan - it is very easy to get separated at night.
Anyway - as soon as we realized (Jim and I) that we were missing Wanda and Erik - we headed back to the last intersection where they were waiting. They had simply not seen us turn, and they did the right thing. Not knowing which direction to go - they stopped and waited.
Back together again we headed to the bearings course where Florida Xtreme caught up and joined us through the course. Our team is VERY good at these - if you are not sure how to to do these, catch me before or after a race and I will give you some tips.
Our next big move was a plan to bushwhack to CP25 (250 meters in and 250 meters out). We found the feature - but it was a very risky move because we were taking a long bearing through thick brush. In the end we lost 30 minutes, and had to go around for the control on bike from the other side.
We were running low on time at this point and were also very fatigued. We picked up the controls on the way to the second trek. We paid attention to how long it took us to bike from the main TA to trek 2, knowing that we would have to account for that time in the return trip.
Trekking on the Clock
On the second trek - I kept very close tabs of time. Our pace was slow as we were all tired, and we did bushwhack most of the controls. We started a bushwhack to one last control and I called for us to bail when I realized we would not have enough time to get it and bike back. It was a good call as our bike leg was a bit slower since we were all having cramping issues.
In the end we placed 3rd (Florida Xtreme did get more controls 38 to our 35). The risky move at CP25 was our big last effort to catch Primal - but the time lost there and also in the regrouping of the team proved to be too much to overcome.
So how had Primal gained a 51 minute lead, only 5 hours into the race. Well they took an incredibly risky move early and decided to bike to the paddle points. If it worked - it would give them a huge lead. The real risk was not being able to get to some of the points due to private property or thick vegetation. In this case it really paid off. They were able to navigate and race conservatively the remainder of the race. I truly appreciate big risk moves - and this one paid off for them, good job.
Enjoy a little music with scenes from the race.